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Cloud Computing Hits

the Mainstream
Promises of low costs for IT and agility for business

It was only a few years ago that the potential of cloud computing was the subject of considerable doubt and debate. Today
there are still debates about cloud computing, but the subject has changed from Does cloud computing make sense? to
How can we most effectively add cloud computing to our IT strategy, and what technology and business benefits can we
realize through that effort?
Although skeptics remain, conventional IT and business wisdom now accepts that cloud computing is not only useful but
might also be seen as a requirement. Properly implemented and leveraged, cloud infrastructures can give companies greater
efficiency, flexibility and scalability in their IT operations, compared to traditional fixed-function computing silos and platforms.
The advantages conferred by the cloud can include low capital and operational expenses andultimatelythe possibility for
improved profitability and business competitiveness.
Because of cloud computings significant impact across both IT and the business sphere, its important that financial
managers as well as IT managers become involved in their companies cloud strategies. Among the issues that teams of IT
and financial managers need to address: which form of cloud computing to use, which applications to deploy to the cloud,
how to ensure cloud security and what costs and benefits to expect in the early and later stages of their cloud journeys.
To assess current cloud perceptions and plans at play across todays corporate landscape, IDG Research Services
recently conducted an AMD-sponsored cloud computing survey that drew responses from 100 IT managers and 106
finance managers.1 The respondents work at companies in more than a dozen industry sectors, although nearly half are
financial services, real estate or insurance firms. Of the represented companies, 39 percent have revenues of less than
$250 million and 10 percent have revenues of $30 billion or more. The online survey was conducted from mid-December
2011 through early January 2012.

CLOUD COMPUTING DEFINITIONS AND VARIATIONS


Although cloud computing has become a pervasive term, its definition seems to be quite malleable. Most industry
participants would agree that cloud infrastructures share some common traits. Among the most fundamental of these
characteristics is the clouds use of a virtualized server infrastructure, which can make it easy for companies to create
pools of processing, storage and networking resources. These resource pools, in turn, can be dynamically allocated to
support application workloads on an as-needed basis. Other common cloud characteristics: Users can tap cloud resources
on demand, and companies or cloud service providers can charge for that access via monthly subscriptions, usage- or
capacity-based fees or some other metered model.
As suggested by its name, the first instances of cloud computing appeared as Internet cloud services offered by thirdparty service providers. This original form of cloud computing, today labeled the public cloud, has since been joined by
private and hybrid cloud variants. Simply put:
Public clouds include Internet-based offerings including software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS),
infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and other offerings provided by commercial service providers including Microsoft,
Amazon, salesforce.com and many others.
Private clouds are inside-the-firewall IT deployments at companies seeking to mimic the efficiency, virtualization,
scalability, flexibility and on-demand access capabilities demonstrated by public cloud infrastructures.
Hybrid clouds represent a strategic blending of private and public cloud infrastructures, with each element
chosen to perform the tasks best suited to its performance, scalability and security profile.
The IDG Research survey indicates that finance managers and, especially, IT managers are most familiar with the public
cloud and private cloud variants. Among the survey respondents, 98 percent said they were very familiar or somewhat
familiar with private clouds and 96 percent said the same about the public cloud. The respondents awareness of hybrid
clouds was lower, but still a respectable 72 percent.
The survey also sought to gauge the proliferation of private/hybrid cloud deployments (with the latter, by definition, including
a private infrastructure element). The results show that the adoption of private/hybrid cloud infrastructure is well under way.
More than one-third of the respondents said their organizations have already deployed clouds either enterprise-wide (19
percent) or department-wide (16 percent). Another 11 percent are currently piloting private/hybrid cloud deployments, and 17
percent are planning such deployments. That left just over one-third of the respondents saying they were still at the stage
of either evaluating (16 percent) or considering (20 percent) private/hybrid clouds.

CLOUD COMPUTING DRIVERS, APPLICATIONS AND OUTLOOK


The IT and finance managers surveyed cited a variety of drivers behind their adoption of cloud computing. Most of these
drivers either explicitly or implicitly involve lowering the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the IT infrastructure. As shown in
Figure 1, five drivers were each cited by at least 45 percent of the survey respondents, led by disaster recovery/business
continuity, which played a role in the cloud investment decisions of 57 percent of the respondents.

AMD White Paper: Cloud Computing Hits the Mainstream

FIGURE 1 DRIVERS BEHIND RECENT CLOUD INVESTMENTS

SOURCE: Cloud Computing: Viewpoints of IT and Finance Executives, IDG Research Services, January, 2012

Despite the many incentives to move to the cloud, respondents did mention some concerns. As has been the case in most
previous cloud computing surveys, the security of data and applications residing in the cloud ranked as the top concern,
with 68 percent of the IDG Research survey respondents citing this issue. Diving deeper into the cloud security issue,
however, this survey demonstrated that this perennial concern is no longer as worrisome as it was in the early days of cloud
computing. Nearly 90 percent of the respondents said they are either very confident (23 percent) or somewhat confident (64
percent) in the security of the data their organization has placed in the cloud.
This mitigation of the security concern makes sense to one of the IDG survey respondents, Mike Lemire, director of
Information Security at Burlington, Mass.based Acquia, Inc. Acquia is both a user of cloud services and a cloud service
provider itself, offering cloud-based PaaS and SaaS solutions based on the open source Drupal content management
platform. Acquia uses the public cloud Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure for its own corporate IT needs as well
as for hosting the Drupal-based content management system service it sells. The Acquia cloud infrastructure, on which it
hosts thousands of customer Websites, is manageable for the company to secure, given that it is a common and consistent
platform for all of those customers, rather than a multitude of separate and distinct environments with divergent technologies.
The security of the Acquia environment is also managed by Lemire and other security professionals devoted specifically to
that task. We can more efficiently keep up with security updates and other needs than can enterprisesregardless of their
sizethat are running a distinct environment on their own, Lemire says.

AMD White Paper: Cloud Computing Hits the Mainstream

Based on survey results, business are poised to embrace the incentives of cloud computing over any cloud concerns.
Survey respondents indicated that they plan to deploy a broad range of applications to the cloud. More than 60 percent
identified nearly one dozen critical application workloads they expect to be cloud-based within three years (see Figure 2).
E-mail led the way in this ranking, with 33 percent saying they are already using cloud-based e-mail or currently migrating to
it, 24 percent planning to migrate in the next 12 months and another 24 percent saying they will migrate to cloud-based e-mail
in the next one to three years.

FIGURE 2 CLOUD USAGE/PLANS BY APPLICATION


NET Using/
Planning to
Use Cloud

82%
78%
77%
72%
70%
70%
68%
64%
63%
62%
62%
SOURCE: Cloud Computing: Viewpoints of IT and Finance Executives, IDG Research Services, January, 2012

On average, the survey respondents anticipate that more than half of their organizations business applications will be
cloud-based within five years.

TECHNICAL AND COST BENEFITS REALIZED FROM EXISTING CLOUD DEPLOYMENTS


Many of the survey respondents have had enough experience with their own cloud deployments to be able identify the
main benefits theyre realizing from this computing and service delivery model. The technical paybacks obtained were led
by two benefits, each cited by 39 percent of the respondents:
n Improved ability to access data from anywhere
n Simplification of the infrastructure

AMD White Paper: Cloud Computing Hits the Mainstream

Four other technical benefits were cited by at least 30 percent of the respondents: more efficient and scalable application
delivery (36 percent), improved data management ability (35 percent), improved ability to manage applications (33 percent)
and increased agility in bringing in new business applications (31 percent).
Beyond these technical benefits, mostbut not allof the respondents also saw clear cost benefits accruing from their cloud
deployments. More than half (54 percent) said they had seen either significantly or somewhat reduced hardware costs,
whereas just 15 percent said they had experienced significantly or somewhat increased hardware costs. Also, 46 percent
said they had realized significantly or somewhat reduced software costs, with just 13 percent saying those costs had
significantly or somewhat increased. In a similar fashion, there were many more respondents reporting cost reductions in real
estate/physical space, IT services and IT staffing than there were respondents citing cost increases in these areas.
William Woods University, based in Fulton, Mo., is an example of an organization that has realized many of the technical
and cost benefits commonly identified in the survey. One of my first IT goals when I arrived at the university was to remove
location from every problem, says Jim Long, IT director at the school. That led Long to replace the personal computers in
the campus labs with either thin clients or kiosk computers, using a desktop virtualization model to shift all the processing
and data storage to a central private cloud environment. This model enables students and staff to access needed
applications and their own data from any location, using the schools client machines and/or their own devices, be they
PCs, tablets or smartphones.
In addition to helping improve the computing experience of students and other IT users, the virtualized private cloud model
can help pay big dividends to the university and its IT department. The biggest driver for me is TCO, Long says, noting that
he has saved nearly $30,000 just by swapping out the schools PCs for less expensive thin-client devices. The centralized
cloud model has also enabled Long to stop overpurchasing software licenses (since he can support more students with
fewer application licenses by using the shared, virtualized cloud model) and has reduced other expenses such as the
maintenance costs formerly associated with servicing distributed PCs.
Not all the survey respondents are tracking the return on investment (ROI) of their cloud computing investmentsonly
42 percent say they are doing sobut those measuring ROI expect relatively rapid payback. Of those who say they are
tracking ROI, 41 percent expect to achieve it within 12 months or less, 28 percent expect ROI in 12 to 24 months and 22
percent expect ROI in 24 months or more.

AMD White Paper: Cloud Computing Hits the Mainstream

OPTIMAL CLOUD INFRASTRUCTURE DELIVERS OPTIMAL CLOUD BENEFITS


Companies seem to be recognizing that the underlying infrastructure is critical if they hope to achieve the maximum
TCO and technical benefits of their cloud investments as well the fastest ROI. Many elements go into creating a
state-of-the-art virtualized cloud infrastructure, but perhaps no variable is more critical than the microprocessors at
the heart of the servers powering the cloud. Although they are sometimes overlooked, the servers microprocessors
can make the difference between high-performing and cost-efficient cloud environments versus sluggish, unduly
expensive cloud deployments.
One microprocessor supplier, AMD, has designed features and capabilities into its devices with an eye toward making
them ideal engines for powering virtualized cloud environments. The AMD Opteron 6200 Series processor is the
industrys first x86 processor with as many as 16 cores2 and, as such, is perfectly suited to meet the demanding
needs of private as well as public clouds. Combined with AMDs embedded AMD-V virtualization features, the AMD
Opteron 6200 Series processor is able to use its 16 cores to help reduce virtualization overhead and minimize latency.
To enable more-robust virtual machines (VMs)3, some users might dedicate one or more of the 16 cores to each VM,
whereas other applications, including virtual desktops, might permit users to place four or more VMs on each core.
Servers based on the AMD Opteron Series processors also include large amounts of high-speed memory and channel
bandwidth, a combination that can enable clouds to handle more transactions simultaneously and to help provide
shorter response times. Having more cores also helps cloud operators scale their operations more easily during peak
workloads and reduces energy consumption and cooling demands.
As the IDG Research survey makes clear, cloud computing initiatives are well under way at many companies, large
and small, and these initiatives are poised to deliver significant technical and business dividends. That said, cloud
deployments require careful planning and purchasingand should include the involvement of IT as well as financial
managersif they are to deliver optimal results. As part of their journey to the cloud, it is critical that these managers
consider how each and every infrastructure element will affect the success of their cloud initiatives. When they
perform these assessments, the managers are likely to discover that a critical and top consideration of the cloud
puzzle is the microprocessor running at its core.

Cloud Computing: Viewpoints of Finance and IT Executives. IDG Research Services. January 2012. For this AMD-funded research, IDG interviewed a total
of 206 IT managers and finance executives between December 2011 and January 2012.
2
Comparison of 16-core AMD Opteron 6200 Series processor with 6-core Intel Xeon 5600 Series processor and 10-core Intel Xeon E7 Series processors as
of November, 2011. SVR-30
3
Intel Xeon 5600 Series = 504 cores per rack ((2x6-core) * 42U), AMD Opteron 6200 Series = 1344 cores per rack ((2x16-core) * 42U). AMD could achieve
504 cores in only 16 nodes, taking up 61% less rack space. In a 2P Intel-based server, each core has 11 other cores to poll for low-latency data before having
to reach out to the cluster fabric; AMD has 31 other cores to poll for 180% greater likelihood of finding low latency data at the node level. SVR-55
1

2012 Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. All rights reserved. AMD, the AMD Arrow Logo, AMD Opteron, AMD Virtualization, AMD-V, and combinations thereof
are trademarks of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other jurisdictions.
All other copyrights or trademarks are the property of their respective owners and are being used under license. Other names used in this presentation are
for identification purposes only and may be trademarks of their respective owners.
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AMD White Paper: Cloud Computing Hits the Mainstream